Tolan Misses Cut At NCAA Finals
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - University of Colorado junior Derek Tolan struggled to a third round 84 here Friday, in the process missing the cut to advance to the final round of the 111th Annual NCAA Men's Golf Championship Finals.
Tolan, from Highlands Ranch, finished with a 54-hole total of 235, or 19-over par. He represented the Buffaloes as an individual here this week after CU came up short in its bid to qualify as a full team at the NCAA Central Regional earlier this month.
Tolan just couldn't get things rolling out of the chute Friday on the 7,450-yard, par-72 Kampen Course at the Birk Boilermaker Golf Complex. Starting on No. 10, he bogeyed his first five holes before scoring a par, then finished up the side with bogey-par-double bogey to turn at 8-over 44.
He fared better on the front nine, opening and closing with three straight pars, but those were unfortunately sandwiched around a bogey-double bogey-bogey stretch on Nos. 4 through 6.
Lighting in the area forced the suspension of play late in the day with half the field (78 players) still on the course, though all had completed at least nine holes. Tolan was tied for 112th when play was suspended, but there were more than the maximum six individuals not advancing from teams or playing by themselves ahead of him to know he had missed the cut.
"He never caught fire today," head coach Roy Edwards said. "He couldn't get up-and-down to save pars on the first three holes, and then had a bad iron shot, then a three-putt and then missed a short birdie putt. Once again, if you're off here, you get hammered. It just eats you up, and he was one of several victims the course claimed."
"We're certainly proud of Derek for playing great at the regional and getting here. That's an accomplishment in itself," Edwards said of Tolan being the top performer out of 91 individuals at the NCAA Central Regional; only two advanced to the national finals that were not on the 10 teams qualifying.
"He keeps getting better and improving all phases of his game, so this is just another step on that road. He'll now know what to expect. A golf course that is this tough but is still fair exposes what you need to work on, whether it's mental or a physical part of the game. He knows what he needs to do to get better."
Tolan was not alone in his frustrations. Also in at 19-over through three rounds were Oklahoma State's Trent Leon and
Florida's Tyler Brown, the Nos. 24 and 45 ranked players in the nation. He bested five other players ranked in the nation's top 75, including three in the top 30, in 54 holes of play though some go on because their teams made the cut.
"Chalk up another one to a learning experience... at this rate, I might be the smartest man alive," Tolan mused after his round. "There was no philosophical angle to it, I just played bad. I got off to a horrible start, and while I never really got away from my game plan, none of my shots went where I wanted them to go.
You just have days where things don't go your way," he continued. "When you're playing bad, and things aren't going your way on a course this tough, the strokes add up fast. There's no place on this course where you can take it easy or get a break, you have to fight the whole way through.
"The real frustrating thing for me was that this course, the layout and the difficulty of it, fits my game. If I could have pulled it together, I could have finished really high here."
He was still most appreciative of the experience.
"It was definitely a great experience, and I enjoyed the two guys I played with," Tolan said. "Every time I play, whether it's here or a course you play a lot, you have to learn something. On a championship level course, all your mistakes are compounded. So in a couple of days, I'll probably be real sharp again.
"What I take form this is I know how good I am, and I know how good I am not. Golf is a sport where you can be humbled very quickly. But I knew I had a lot of support, people were sending faxes and leaving messages for me, including one from (athletic director) Mike Bohn. It made me really proud to represent the university; there is no substitute for that stuff."
No. 5 UCLA recaptured its first day lead, and with an 888 team score, leads a tightly packed bunch, just ahead of No. 1 USC and No. 10 Clemson (both 891), No. 8 Stanford (8930 and No. 4 Oklahoma State (895).
Tolan was the first Buff golfer to compete in the NCAA Finals since 2002, when the entire team qualified and tied for 14th, and the first to qualify individually since 1993. Since the NCAA went to a 72-hole, all stroke play format for the finals, 10 Buffs qualified individually including Tolan, with four making the cut, topped by the legendary Hale Irwin who claimed medalist honors in 1967. No solo Buff has made the cut since John Lindberg in 1987.
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS
1. Kevin Chappell, UCLA....................... 69-73-68?210
2. Kyle Stanley, Clemson...................... 72-68-74?214
5. Tim Sluiter, USC................................. 70-73-73?216
6. *Derek Fathauer,
9. Rob Grube, Stanford.......................... 78-69-73?220
9. *David Palm,
(*?did not complete third round.)